The role of the shaman in a modern world – no2 – ‘holding vision’

In this newsletter, I want to look briefly at the concept of holding vision. This is an aspect of shamanic practice that is available to us all but needs to be considered alongside other aspects of shamanism and activism generally. Visioning is an important response to current world dynamics but not the only one.

My sense is that the earth is torn between growing levels of individual consciousness and the attempts of some powerful bodies to hold onto their control. We are having to look for personal balance against a backdrop of climate change, a pandemic, and conflict.

So how might a shaman respond?

First of all, there is always action to be considered, an appropriate and compassionate response to whatever the situation is. A combination of strong resistance where needed – we sometimes need a clear and boundaried “no, this is not ok” – as well as looking for the support needed to lead the situation towards a place of healing and resolution.

Alongside this, there are emotional implications within any situation. There might be judgement and hostility triggered within us, grief, empathy, fears for the future or a capacity to drop into polarity thinking, where there is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘good’ and ‘bad’. All emotions can be allowed space to be seen and felt so that they can move through us fully, without getting stuck.

Another aspect to consider is that of holding vision. This requires us to hold a space for something bigger than our current struggles, perhaps a world of community where we unite behind common goals and values. It sits alongside the physical and emotional layers and may be refined and developed by the practical actions we take and the emotions we feel.

Energising the vision is important because it is so easy to get caught up in the physical struggles facing our species and the emotions that go with it. We are on a journey of the soul as well as the mind and body. Honouring our capacity to envision something different, bigger even than our full understanding, keeps us connected to that limitless part of us and our world.

The Laika shaman are the vision holders in Peruvian shamanism. They were persecuted by the Spanish conquestadors in the 16th Century and fled up to the heights of the Andes where they held their medicine intact for 400 years along with their vision for a healed Earth. When they came down from the mountains in 1950 it was to share the vision of a new potential with the rest of us, a vision of ‘hominus luminus’, a higher level of consciousness within the whole of the human race, all of us connected.

Within my own practice, I sometimes feel a difficulty in holding a vision for a heart based, loving world, when some of the organisations and governments that hold ostensible power do not seem to operate at that level.

I journeyed to the mythic for advice and was guided to see this not as an issue of resistance but of resilience. I was shown a world created from our hearts, a world that cannot be reached, let alone damaged, by beings or organisations that do not recognise the essence of love. It is not a question of defeating them, but transcending their world view and its reach.

Creating your vision

It is important that our visions are based around a clear essence, but are broad and flexible enough in their detail to call in an outcome beyond what we are able even to imagine. We should focus on the quality and energy of the vision and leave the details to Spirit.

Sometimes, our visioning and dreaming can be limited by the boundaries of our known experiences, by ambition that sits well below what is actually possible. This is why I only look to capture the loving feeling of the area I am envisaging. I do not focus on a particular political structure or ideology holding sway, or a specific outcome, just the sense of a positive feel for how that situation might develop. This means not trying to manipulate structures from our limited perspective and having the humility to realise we don’t have all the answers, perhaps just a lot of opinions!

We can then energise it by lighting a candle, blowing it into a stone that we leave on the earth, or into a stick that we give to fire.

Whatever your vision is for our beautiful world, please do whatever you can to put your loving intention behind it. It is through the combined energy of these prayers and visions alongside action and inner growth that true change can occur.

With love

Andrew

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